Friday, April 10, 2015

Blocks From the Past: Bear Claw

Okay, so this block took a bit longer than I had anticipated, so pardon my delay!!

Like the Kansas Troubles block, I really like the finished product—but I did not like the process. Actually, I think it was the lack of clarity on the directions that got me down!

This Bear Claw block is essentially an inversion of the Kansas Troubles Block. Here's a look of both blocks so that you can see what I mean:

The Bear Claw block is on the left. Kinda cute, isn't it? Still, it made me go "Grrrrr" while putting it together.

Like the Kansas Troubles block, it calls for strips of the grey and blue/green that are intended to result in the HSTs. What's confusing to me is that the pattern calls for strip piecing of those two strips. Clearly a doctorate in education is not sufficient for me to figure out how strip piecing two long rectangles = 16 triangles. Unless one is supposed to do what I did: cut the rectangles down to squares, cut the squares in half diagonally, and chain piece HSTs. However, if that is what's intended, the directions should say that, right? So if anyone understands what may be obvious to everyone else but me, please clear up my confusion!!

So, however you might like to get your strips of fabric into HSTs, here's what they should look like.

Again, however, because the measurements call for only 2/10" difference between the cut fabric and the finished square, I needed to use a 2/10" seam allowance. That just annoyed me, so instead I made my triangles larger and then cut them down to the right size.

Like the Kansas Troubles block, I then pieced together two units: 1) two HSTs; and 2) two HSTs and a grey square. Again, here's my annoyance. I needed to use a 2/10" (or so) seam allowance to make this work. I, sadly, did not discover this until I had pieced all the units. Grrr.

Anywho, after some grumping and grrrrring I finally beat, er, sewed the pieces into submission. They look so peaceful and innocent over there, don't they? Who would know they could be so wrought with frustration??
I then inserted what I call "crossbeams" into the blocks as shown below:

And here, at long last and with much frustration, is the finished block: 

I think what I find so frustrating about this otherwise really satisfying block is that the annoyances could easily have been eliminated by doing the following:
  • Specify what the finished measurements of the block's sub-units should be
  • Use more standard (modern) 1/4" measurements. Marion has told me that in the past measurements such as 5/8" or 7/8" were more common. 
  • Be more clear about the procedures (as in the construction of the HSTs). The book has an explanation of how to construct HSTs (which is sewing together triangles), but this does not shed any light on how the strips are supposed to become HSTs.
Anyway, I really do love the finished product, and I might make them again—but with my own measurements and my own directions!

Check in Sunday for Part 3 of my BFTPqal blocks: applique!

Monday, April 6, 2015

Blocks From the Past: Kansas Troubles

Happy Easter and Happy Passover—and Happy Spring!

I had an unanticipated hiatus from my newly renewed blogging when my father (who is moving from the Southwest U.S. to southern Baja, Mexico) asked me to drive him from NM to Mexico. Who can say no to a roadtrip—and a parent?!

So I'm back on grid after far too long without any access to internet. Felt like the old days!

Today I'm here to share with you my second week of coverage of Blocks From The Past! Today's block is "Kansas Troubles," and let me tell you it did cause me some troubles! I really love the finished product, but boy was it a bit troublesome!!

As with my last set of blocks, the measures were a little off our modern "normal" piecing, but thankfully easier than the last blocks I did!

The pattern called for three fabrics:

Grey: 1) Two 3 7/8" squares (cut into triangles); 2) Four 1 1/4" squares; and 3) One 1 1/2" strip

The pattern does not specify how long that 1 1/2" strip should be, but you'll need 8 squares (for HSTs), so according to the pattern the strip will need to be 12" long.

Note: We all have different ways of tackling HSTs. I prefer to have just a bit more fabric to work with that I can then trim back, rather than having a scant HST, so I actually cut my strips into 14x1.75" length, then cut my HSTs down to the required 1 1/4". For those of you who always have precise, flawless 1/4 inch seams, you'll likely go with the measurements as stated in the pattern.

Green: Two 2 3/8" squares, cut each in half diagonally

Blue/Green: 1) Four 1 5/8" squares, each cut in half diagonally; and 2) 1 1/2" strips (see above note).

I sewed the grey and blue/green HSTs into blocks, then trimmed down to 1 1/4" squares.

 I then assembled eight units—each had one blue/green triangle and two grey and blue/green squares. This was straightforward, but took some attention to ensure that the triangles were oriented in the right way.

I then sewed a grey square to the end of one unit (described above) and the larger green triangle to another unit. Again, here it was important to ensure that I was constructing the triangles in the correct orientation to ensure it matched the direction in the outline.

After sewing together the pieces pictured above, I then sewed the large grey triangles and assembled it in the order depicted in the pattern.

It was only at this point that I began to enjoy the pattern that was emerging as the block was taking shape.

And here is the Kansas Troubles block—finished! Of the blocks that I've done so far from this book, this block is by far my favorite. Of course, the green Lizzy House fabric does help me feel happy!

Happy sewing and check back in tomorrow for a new blog post and Wednesday for a new BFTPqal block!